Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a common mental health condition in which a person has obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors. This condition can affect everyone – men, women, and children. Some people start having symptoms early in their lives, often around puberty [1]. Usually, it starts during early adulthood. Obsessive-compulsive disorder can be distressing and it can significantly interfere with your daily life. But, treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder can help you to keep it under control.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder:


If you suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder, usually you will experience frequent obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors. The unwanted and unpleasant thought, image, or urge that repeatedly enters your mind, causing feelings of unease, disgust, or anxiety is known as an obsession. The repetitive behavior or mental act which you feel you need to do temporarily relieves the unpleasant feelings brought on by the obsessive thought is known as a compulsion.

If someone who has an obsessive fear of being burgled may feel that they need to check all the windows and doors are locked several times before they can leave their house. Women can have sometimes obsessive-compulsive disorder after their baby is born or during pregnancy [2]. Obsessions can include worrying about not sterilizing feeding bottles properly or about harming the baby. Things, like repeatedly checking the baby is breathing, are known as compulsions.

Obsession symptoms

Obsessive-compulsive disorder obsessions are repeated, persistent and unwanted images, urges, or thoughts that are intrusive and cause anxiety or distress. You may want to rid of them or ignore them by performing a compulsive ritual or behavior. Typically, these obsessions intrude when you are trying to think of or do other things. Often, obsessions have themes to them, such as [3,4]

  • Unwanted thoughts, including sexual or religious subjects or aggression
  • Aggressive or horrific thoughts about losing control and harming yourself or others
  • Needing things orderly and symmetrical
  • Doubting and having difficulty tolerating uncertainty
  • Fear of contamination or dirt

Some examples of obsession signs and symptoms include:

  • Avoidance of situations can trigger obsessions, such as shaking hands
  • Unpleasant sexual images
  • Thoughts about shouting obscenities or acting inappropriately in public
  • Images of driving your car into a crowd of people
  • Intense stress when objects are not orderly or facing a certain way
  • Doubts that you have locked the door or turned off the stove
  • Fear of being contaminated by touching objects others have touched

Compulsion symptoms

Obsessive-compulsive disorder compulsions are repetitive behaviors that you feel driven to perform. Typically, compulsions have themes, such as [4]

  • Demanding reassurance
  • Following a strict routine
  • Orderliness
  • Counting
  • Checking
  • Washing and cleaning

Some examples of compulsion signs and symptoms are next:

  • Arranging your canned goods to face the same way
  • Silently repeating a prayer, word, or phase
  • Counting in certain patterns
  • Checking the stove repeatedly to make sure it is off
  • Inspecting doors repeatedly to make sure they are locked
  • He or she is washing his or her hands until their skin becomes raw


It is not known what the cause of the obsessive-compulsive disorder is. There are many different factors that can play a role in it, such as

  • Personality: Meticulous, neat, or methodical people with high personal standards may be more likely to develop the obsessive-compulsive disorder, as well as people who are generally quite anxious or have a very strong sense of responsibility for themselves and others
  • Life events: It is noticed that obsessive-compulsive disorder can be more common in people who have been neglected, abused, or bullied and it sometimes starts after an important life event, such as bereavement or childbirth. [1]
  • Differences in the brain: It is noticed that some people with obsessive-compulsive disorder have areas of usually high activity in their brain or low levels of a chemical called serotonin. [5]
  • Family history: You have more chances of developing obsessive-compulsive disorder if you have a family member that has it, due to the possibility of having the same genes. [6]


[1] Krebs G, Heyman I. Obsessive-compulsive disorder in children and adolescents. Archives of Disease in Childhood. 2015;100(5):495–9. doi:10.1136/archdischild-2014-306934

[2]  Namouz-Haddad S, Nulman I. Safety of treatment of obsessive compulsive disorder in pregnancy and puerperium. Canadian Family Physician. 2014;60(2):133–6.

[3] Concordia University. Surprising truth about obsessive-compulsive thinking. Science Daily. 2014. Retrieved from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140408122137.htm

[4] National Institute of Mental Health. Obsessive-compulsive disorder. Retrieved from www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/obsessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd/

[5] Lissemore JI, Sookman D, Gravel P, et al. Brain serotonin synthesis capacity in obsessive-compulsive disorder: effects of cognitive behavioral therapy and sertraline. Translational Psychiatry. 2018;8:82. doi:10.1038/s41398-018-0128-4

[6] Nestadt G, Samuels J, Riddle M, et al. A family study of obsessive-compulsive disorder. Archives of General Psychiatry. 2000;57(4):358-363. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.57.4.358


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